David Chart's Japan Diary

February 11th 2007

First, I have, as threatened, started an English blog. I plan to note updates to this diary in the blog, but not vice versa, since the main point of the blog is to avoid having to go through the hassle involved in updating the diary for every minor update. So far, it seems to be working as a way of increasing the frequency of updates.

But, I have things with pictures to report, and thus I'm writing another diary entry.

For the first thing, we have pictures, but I can't put them online yet. We went back to the Ob/Gyn clinic yesterday, and had another ultrasound scan. The baby now has a head, and buds of arms and legs. It's actually baby-shaped, rather than just being a blob. The due date is mid-September. There don't seem to be any problems yet, or any signs of complications, so we will be going back in a month or so, unless the battery of blood tests turns something up. Looking at the list, it probably won't, but obviously we can't be sure yet.

On Friday, Yuriko went to the ward office to pick up her Mother and Baby Health Record Book. These books are issued to all mothers by the relevant local government, and are used to record various aspects of the child's growth from conception to six years. She received a lot of other booklets and literature at the same time. There's a book explaining what all the entries in the Record Book are about, a book on child-rearing in general, a book produced by an association of mothers in Miyamae Ward, which talks about good parks for children and the like, and lots of leaflets about everything from avoiding SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome -- the same acronym is used in Japan) to parents' antenatal classes. The classes look like a good idea, in part because the attendees are organised by area, which means it's a good way to make contact with other prospective parents, and make friends.

Overall, it looks like the level of support for parents here is pretty good. It's not quite up to the levels in Norway, apparently, but rather better than provision in the USA. Most of the institutions also seem to be enthusiastic about fathers participating in the process, and given how many of them were around at the clinic I suspect that it is normal for fathers of my generation or younger to be involved in the process. Mind you, I also suspect that this is the first generation of which this has been true.

Hilly and Graham Hilary and Graham at Yushima Tenjin.

The other significant event was that Hilary visited from America, with Graham, her fiance. Graham is an artist, and had been asked by Comme des Garcons, a fashion chain, to do installations in two of their stores in Tokyo. Hilary got to come along as his assistant. Unsurprisingly, they were busy with creating the installation for most of the time they were here (only a few days in total), but yesterday they had the afternoon free. Arranging the meeting was a bit tricky, as I had no way to contact them, but Hilly finally managed to get through to my cell phone. They were, of course, right the other side of Tokyo. I went to meet them, and we went to look quickly around Yushima Tenjin, the shrine where Yuriko and I had our wedding ceremony. We didn't have very long, but I wanted to show them the actual place (particularly as we ended up meeting quite close to it). As an added bonus, the shrine's plum blossom festival was happening, so there were a lot of stalls and a taiko group playing.

At the Sushi Restaurant The four of us at the sushi restaurant.

Then we headed back to Kawasaki, and arrived just in time for me to teach. While I was teaching, Yuriko entertained them, and showed them a bit more of the local area, and afterward we went to Bikkuri Sushi, the local sushi shop, for dinner. That was a success; Hilly and Graham both like sushi, and Hilly, in particular, said that she enjoyed the experience. Obviously, Yuriko and I both really like that restaurant, and it is a very Japanese experience. We came back to the flat so that they could have the tour, and then they had to head back to their hotel, because they had an early flight to catch this morning. They're probably most of the way back to California by now.

Since I had to take time off yesterday to see Hilary and Graham, I'm having to do some work today. However, we aren't planning to dash around Tokyo much in the near future, so Yuriko is just taking it easy around the house while I do various jobs -- such as writing this diary entry.